Sometimes your best friend become your bigger fear
Here is the story of my patient Brandon, who was addicted to alcohol.
Alcohol is not an illegal substance, although there are legal restrictions put into place for its use, as alcohol can be toxic and deadly. Because of its legality, accessibility, and social acceptability, it is easy for addicts to spiral into alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Many alcohol abusers do not even realize their drinking habits are abnormal or dangerous. Alcohol abuse is defined as having more than three drinks per day or seven drinks per week for women, and five drinks per day or fourteen drinks per week for men.
Brandon had always been a social drinker, experimenting early with alcohol in high school and college with his friends. This progressed to going out and binge drinking every weekend, which turned into going out for drinks almost every night, including during the workweek. Brandon then started drinking alone at home and isolating from friends and missing work so he could drink. He was constantly hungover and felt sick if he wasn’t drinking.
Brandon had been hospitalized multiple times for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol addiction ran in his family (studies show there is a genetic component to addiction), and Brandon knew it was possible he could even drink himself to death. In our clinic, he was starting to fear the long-term effects alcohol could have on his body so much that he also needed a few counseling from a psychotherapist. Complications from alcohol abuse, such as liver, kidney, or heart damage, can all kill chronic alcohol abusers and the alcohol-death become his panic fear.
But chronic drinkers aren’t the only ones at risk. Binge drinking, or drinking a large quantity in a short period of time, even once, can have severe long and short-term consequences, including death. Alcohol is a depressant, so binge drinking can cause breathing to slow so much that the brain does not receive enough oxygen to function.
Brandon is detoxing as an inpatient in a rehabilitation center that is focused on the twelve steps of recovery. After his stay, he will continue counseling and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and receive support from a sponsor to help keep him accountable for his sobriety.